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4.6 out of 5 stars261
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I have to admit that I have not really given Jack London his proper due up to now. Perhaps it is because I don't by my nature like outdoor adventure type stories, or perhaps it is because I associate White Fang and "To Build a Fire" with my youth. The fact is that Jack London is a tremendously talented writer. His understanding of the basics of life matches his great knowledge of the snow-enshrouded world of the upper latitudes. The Call of the Wild, despite its relative brevity and the fact that it is (at least on its surface) a dog's story, contains as much truth and reality of man's own struggles as that which can be sifted from the life's work of many another respected author. The story London tells is starkly real; as such, it is not pretty, and it is not elevating. As an animal lover, I found parts of this story heartbreaking: Buck's removal from the civilized Southland in which he reigned supreme among his animal kindred to the brutal cold and even more brutal machinations of hard, weathered men who literally beat him and whipped him full of lashes is supremely sad and bothersome. Even sadder are the stories of the dogs that fill the sled's traces around him. Poor good-spirited Curly never has a chance, while Dave's story is made the more unbearable by his brave, undying spirit. Even the harsh taskmaster Spitz has to be pitied, despite his harsh nature, for the reader knows full well that this harsh nature was forced upon him by man and his thirst for gold. Buck's travails are long and hard, but the nobility of his spirit makes of him a hero--this despite the fact that his primitive animal instincts and urges continually come to dominate him, pushing away the memory and reality of his younger, softer days among civilized man. Buck not only conquers all--the weather, the harshness of the men who harness his powers in turn, the other dogs and wolves he comes into contact with--he thrives. This isn't a story to read when you are depressed. London's writing is beautiful, poignant, and powerful, but it is also somber, sometimes morose, infinitely real, and at times gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.
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on 16 February 1999
Everyone who gave The Call of the Wild only 1 star doesn't seem to understand the book. The book is not horrible. Even though Jack London got a little carried away with his descriptions doesn't mean it wasn't a good book. Some things seem unrealistic in the book, but that's not the point. The book is an allegory, which is a story where the characters are symbols of everyday life. Buck is supposed to be "everyone" in the world, and he makes it through life without dying, and he even has a legacy afterwards. All the other dogs, like Spitz, have their own character traits, and they all died. You have to be like Buck; you have to be centered and grounded and you have to know who you are. The theme of the story is "Survival of the Fittest". This is what Jack London is trying to say. Don't think I'm an English teacher writing this. I'm in 7th grade and I had to read The Call of the Wild for school. You should think of this book as a great one. Why do you think some expressions and terms used in everyday life today come from The Call of the Wild? Why would people 100 years later read this book? The reason is because it is a great piece of literature.
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Gold was found in Alaska, the rush to obtain it required a strong constitution and many dogs to do the work that horses usually did in the states. The environment bread harsh attitudes. Also in the testing of ones mettle one finds their true potential.

Buck (a dog that is half St Bernard and half Shepherd) goes through many lives, trials, and tribulations finally realizing his potential. On the way he learns many concepts from surprise, to deceit, and cunning; he also learns loyalty, devotion, and love. As he is growing he feels the call of the wild.

This book is well written. There is not a wasted word or thought and the story while building on its self has purpose and direction. The descriptions may be a tad graphic for the squeamish and a tad sentimental for the romantic. You see the world through Buck's eyes and understand it through his perspective until you also feel the call of the wild.

The Call of the Wild - Dog of the Yukon (1997)
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on 10 August 2012
I followed up my recent reading of 'White Fang' with rereading of this earlier Jack London novel, and they made an interesting comparison. There was something slightly more anthropomorphic about 'Call of the Wild' and certainly more emphasis on the bond between Buck and his various human owners (especially his last owner John Thornton). The climax of this novel, where Buck finally answers the 'call' and joins the wild wolves, anticipates the 'White Fang' story which is darker and closer to nature. I would say that the writing is richer and more mature in 'White Fang' but some of the set-piece incidents here - such as Thornton's wager that Buck could singlehandedly break out a thousand pound sled load and pull it one hundred yards - are as exciting as I remember them as a boy reader.

Reviewer David Williams blogs regularly as Writer in the North.
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HOW have I managed to get to the age of ** without reading this??? I described it thus to my sister last night: 'I can't believe how brilliant it is, it's one of THOSE books.'

For anyone who hasn't read it and doesn't know about it (yes, I know it's a classic and this is probably like saying 'for anyone who doesn't know what Wuthering Heights is about!), it's set in during the Klondike gold rush of the late 19th century, in Yukon Territory and Alaska. The story is told from the point of view of Buck, a St Bernard/Scottish shepherd dog crossbreed who lived a luxurious existence in a wealthy house in California, and is stolen and sold by the gardner to work for prospectors, a hard life indeed.

Much of the book is about how he adapts to his changing environment, but more than that, how 'not only did he learn by experience but instincts long dead within him. The domesticated generations fell from him in vague ways he remembered back to the youth of the breed....they came to him without effort or discovery as though they had been his always.'

I am sure that those who've studied this book will tell you that what happens to Buck along the way is a parallel of what might happen to man under such circumstances, too; well, that was how it seemed to me, anyway. I am not a 'dog person', but I loved Buck and the dogs with whom he travelled. He had masters who cared for him properly, and one horrible group who deserved all that happened to them, until he finally found his one true master. The passages about the relationship between him and John Thornton were so, so touching, but what I loved most was the discovery of his 'race memory', how he dreamt of and somehow knew about times so long ago, etched into his DNA.

Of course, the call of the wild becomes stronger and stronger.... this is a wonderful book, not very long (I would have been happy if it had been three times the length), and I'd recommend it to anyone. So now I've found another author whose books I will be working through...next: 'White Fang'!
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2012
Jack London, an American author, journalist, and social activist, was born in 1876. He led a hugely colourful life, one that included being caught up in the Yukon Gold Rush. His time on the trail formed the basis for his two best known books - "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang".

"The Call of the Wild" opens in the Autumn of 1897, and tells the story of - Buck, a St Bernard - Scotch shepherd cross and four years old when we first meet him. He lives at Judge Miller's place in the Santa Clara Valley and is his owner's pride and joy - literally the estate's top dog. Unfortunately for Buck, with the Klondike Gold Rush in full swing, there's a demand for big, strong sled-dogs. While the Judge wouldn't ever consider selling Buck, one if the Judge's unscrupulous gardeners is bad need of some cash - and, sooner than you can say "Get down, Shep", Buck is heading to the frozen north.

Buck serves a number of different masters - some treat him well, others terribly. (The level of cruelty that Buck suffers on his journey north is appalling and only one of the humans in "The Call of the Wild" earns Buck's undying loyalty). Many of Buck's fellow dogs are little better, however - his own team has one cruel and dangerous rival called Spitz, for example. Although Buck's easy life is over, he luckily proves to a quick learner - as clever, hardworking and adaptable as he is strong. However, as time goes on, the call of the wild becomes louder and Buck longs to join the wolves.

A short book, one that can be easily whizzed through and - despite a number of unpleasant scenes - totally recommended.
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on 6 September 2010
This book was chosen by my reading group as an 'extra' to read over the summer. When I read the description I almost didn't buy it as I thought it was so 'not me'. However I was completely hooked on it before the end of the first chapter. I expected a bit of a soppy tale with a sugary ending but nothing could be further from the truth. The story is based on the author's true experiences set in the frozen Yukon during the gold rush in the late 1800s. The conditions were unbelievably harsh and were endured by desperate, ruthless men. The story is told in a 'no frills' way from the dog's point of view, so is not in any way emotional - this only reinforces the brutal lives and harsh conditions these men and animals encountered. Buck was a pet dog, stolen from his home because of his strength and taken to serve as a sledge dog. His shock and endurance in this totally alien landscape and way of life is brilliantly described. There isn't really a happy ending depending on your point of view but it does remind dog owners that all pet dogs are closely related to wolves and given the right circumstances they can once again be one of the pack.
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Gold was found in Alaska, the rush to obtain it required a strong constitution and many dogs to do the work that horses usually did in the states. The environment bread harsh attitudes. Also in the testing of ones mettle one finds their true potential.
Buck (a dog that is half St Bernard and half Shepherd) goes through many lives, trials, and tribulations finally realizing his potential. On the way he learns many concepts from surprise, to deceit, and cunning; he also learns loyalty, devotion, and love. As he is growing he feels the call of the wild.
This book is well written. There is not a wasted word or thought and the story while building on its self has purpose and direction. The descriptions may be a tad graphic for the squeamish and a tad sentimental for the romantic. You see the world through Buck's eyes and understand it through his perspective until you also feel the call of the wild.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Gold was found in Alaska, the rush to obtain it required a strong constitution and many dogs to do the work that horses usually did in the states. The environment bread harsh attitudes. Also in the testing of ones mettle one finds their true potential.
Buck (a dog that is half St Bernard and half Shepherd) goes through many lives, trials, and tribulations finally realizing his potential. On the way he learns many concepts from surprise, to deceit, and cunning; he also learns loyalty, devotion, and love. As he is growing he feels the call of the wild.
This book is well written. There is not a wasted word or thought and the story while building on its self has purpose and direction. The descriptions may be a tad graphic for the squeamish and a tad sentimental for the romantic. You see the world through Buck's eyes and understand it through his perspective until you also feel the call of the wild.
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on 27 December 2011
My third book by the author, and a possible reread (I remember some parts but not sure if I ever finished it).

Basically the tale tells the life of Buck ( a Saint Bernard-Scotch shepherd dog) and the life he leads.

At times harrowing, we follow Buck as he is stolen from a comfortable life and sold as a sledge dog. He rediscovers the primordial instinct for survival and endures all hardships put upon him. This includes being beaten by humans, driven to near death on the sledge and still having to fight for mastery over his fellows canines.

Not exactly a light-hearted read with death on nearly every page, but an excellent representation of the attitudes of the early 20th century and the will to survive.

Would I recommend it? Everytime.
Would I reread it? One day.
Am I glad I read it? Definitely
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